Why is it so hard to keep your New Year’s Resolutions?
Making positive change in yourself is a lot about breaking bad habits and building new ones. You don’t change your behavior overnight — if you want to change it, and keep it that way, you have to whittle away at those bad habits until you’ve worn them down and replaced them with better ones. It’s a long-term commitment.
But if you’re making a bunch of ambitious goals, all set to apply starting January 1, you are kind of setting yourself up for failure. You’re not gradually wearing away at those bad habits — you are trying to go cold turkey, replacing them with entirely foreign behaviors.
It might work for a few days, a week, a month…
But eventually, you will have a stressful day, binge on McDonald’s on the way home, and spend the evening binge watching TV instead of hauling yourself to the gym. And once you’ve had one bad day, it doesn’t seem too terrible to have a second. And a third.
Instead of piling on the ambitions from the get-go, try your hand at the New You for the New Year Challenge, which challenges you to develop twelve good habits — over the course of the entire year.
Hey guys! I created a new infographic along the same lines as this one you might want to check out. Do you have specific goals to accomplish this year? Learn how to set resolutions just like real goals!
After you check out the full graphic below, be sure to keep scrolling down for some tips for each month’s challenge!
Tip: Hover over the center of the image above (around June) and click the Pinterest button to save this image to your inspiration board on Pinterest! Feel free to save the image and share it on your blog or Tumblr — linking back here, if you don’t mind!
Follow along with us on Facebook as we work through the year as a community. We’ll post a reminder at the beginning of each month, and a check-in later in the month. Share your progress in the comments!
I don’t know about you, but December really tends to wipe out my wallet. Between holiday gifts for my friends and family, eating out while relatives are in town, and higher heating costs, things definitely get sort of tight after the holidays.
January is a great month to take a good hard look at your recurring expenses and see where you can get a little thriftier. What subscriptions are you paying for but not using? Many online services allow you to “pause” your account temporarily, giving you the chance to not pay when you’re not taking full advantage of it.
I try to make a point to call my cable company (not naming any names, but it rhymes with “Bombast”) every so often to see if I can get a lower rate. Many internet service providers regularly run specials, and if you are unhappy with your service or the price you are paying, they might extend sales that are normally only for new customers to your account. It never hurts to ask.
Food is another huge expense for many people, myself included. You can majorly cut back on your spending if you pack your lunch instead of buying it. Make the transition a little easier on yourself by picking up a cute Bento box for transporting your food to work. And of course, cutting out that expensive latte goes a long way.
February is a month to count your blessings. Be grateful for what you have — whether that is the love of your life, your beautiful children, or your drive for happiness and self-improvement. Being more mindful throughout the day can help you feel appreciation more deeply. You’ll be more patient, more understanding, and you’ll feel freer.
Part of being more mindful is engaging more with your senses. What are you seeing, tasting, feeling, smelling, and hearing right now? This applies during mealtimes too: instead of eating your food on the go, sit down and savor it. This is something I really appreciated from my time studying abroad in France; the French don’t eat on the go as much as Americans do. Instead, dinnertime is a social activity that can span hours. Even if you don’t have hours, you can still take the time to appreciate the food on your plate.
Social media is a great distraction when you have some time to kill, but it’s also just that: a distraction. Instead of staring down at your phone, take those odd spaces throughout the day to observe your surroundings. If you are disengaged from your phone, it is easier for others to strike up conversation with you — and for you to strike up conversation with others. Who knows; maybe you’ll find a new friend.
Clutter. It’s a never-ending problem. All the time, we are acquiring new things, receiving new mail, using our belongings in a rush and not putting them away. Even if you are good about cleaning up as you go, it’s still a great idea to take some time early in the year for a spring cleaning.
These days, there is less need than ever to hold onto your paper documents. Pick up a document scanner to easily convert your important papers to PDF, and get all that paper out of your life. Of course, if you are digitizing all your important files, you’ll want to make sure you are backing everything up safely. I use and recommend Backblaze, which lets you backup an entire computer and all your connected hard drives for just $5 a month.
This one is easy: get rid of expired stuff! Purge your fridge, your pantry, your medicine cabinet, and your makeup bag. (Yes, I said your makeup… makeup that is too old can harbor bacteria and even cause a bad rash. Yuck!) Also consider whether it is time for a new pillow — they collect dust mites, allergens, and oil from your face that can make you break out, so you should replace them every 2-3 years.
Purging your closet might be a little tougher… so to make it easier, here is a neat life hack. Today, turn around every hanger in your closet so they are hooked over the bar backwards, and set a calendar reminder for yourself to clean out your closet a year from now. As you wear items and put them back in your closet, turn their hangers around the right way. When you get your reminder, donate or toss everything that still has a backwards hanger, because you haven’t worn it in over a year!
The year is well underway by now! Fight back against stress by taking up a new hobby or anti-stress activity.
Meditation is a great way to be more mindful and overall achieve a greater sense of calmness in your day. It is easy to get started meditating for free; search YouTube for tutorials or get started with an app.
Coloring — yes, in coloring books, like when you were a kid! — is a great way to give yourself some creative freedom. It is easy to relax into the soothing process of selecting colors and filling in the page. Luckily for you, I’ve put together some of the most comprehensive guides on adult coloring books — check out my list of the best adult coloring books here.
Gardening is also another fun and stress-relieving hobby that is easy to get started with, and this is a great time of year for it! Get started by buying a few herbs at the store and growing them on your windowsill, or growing flowers in pots on your porch.
Almost all of us could use a little more fruit or veggie in our lives. With so many processed foods available, it can be hard to make sure you reach the recommended number of servings in a day — which amount to about two cups of fruits and three cups of vegetables per day.
To make that easier to reach, drink your vegetables! My boyfriend gave me a juicer (if you’re curious, it was the Omega VRT350 Low Speed Juicer) as a gift about a year and a half ago, and I instantly started buying and consuming more produce. That was easy! I also more recently got a Vitamix, which pulverizes anything I put into it — awesome for green smoothies!
Speaking of buying more produce, replace the snacks you keep around (or at least right in the line of sight) with snackable produce: oranges, apples, bananas, carrots, and bell peppers are all awesome choices.
To really commit to consuming more veg, declare at least one dinner per week as meat-free (it doesn’t have to be Mondays). Have fun trying vegetarian versions of your favorite recipes, or explore new options. If you are looking for new meal ideas (in general, not just vegetarian), I recommend the YouTube channel Food Wishes — not only is Chef John hilarious, but he makes dishes simple and fun to make.
Shift your focus from things to experiences. Things can get lost, broken, or outdated, but your memories and experiences will be what shape you. For example, I look back on my semester studying abroad in France as one of the best experiences of my life, and it has fueled my drive for travel and language learning ever since.
Get involved in groups in your community. Don’t know where to find them? Search on Meetup.com or check in with your local library. (Psst — like coloring? I maintain a huge list of coloring clubs across the United States, if you want to color in good company.)
Listen to more live music. Save up for tickets for your favorite band and make a big trip out of it, or support small local acts. They’ll give you a night to remember.
Plan a vacation for sometime this year, even if it’s just a weekend getaway or staycation.
It might not be the same where you are, but where I live, July is often the hottest month of the year. Those high temperatures are hugely dehydrating. Not only that, but nearly half of Americans don’t drink enough water in the first place. Eeek!
I have mastered the art of staying hydrated, but it wasn’t easy. One of the best things I’ve done for myself is picked up a nice 32 oz water bottle. I do my best to finish a full bottle in the morning, and again in the evening.
If you’re one of those people who hates the taste of water (who are you?!), swap your sodas for flavored water, fruit-infused water, or herbal tea. If the water actually tastes bad out of your tap, you might have extra minerals in your water, which you can filter out with a faucet attachment like this one.
You can eat your water, too. Cucumbers, king of the watery vegetables, are 96% water. Other fruits and vegetables with a high water content are celery, bell peppers, cantaloupe, and watermelon.
PSA: Don’t go insane on the water intake — it is possible to drink too much water, and it can be really bad for you.
We’re 2/3 of the way through the year — chances are, your workout needs a refresh!
Now is a great time to start something new. Many fitness classes enroll for the fall season around this time. You could try a class for something you’ve always wanted to try, like kickboxing, spinning, Zumba, or pilates. Check with your gym, community center, or local YMCA to see their offerings. It’s not a bad idea to check Groupon for good exercise class deals, either!
What are all those weight machines you never try at the gym? If you’ve been avoiding them because you don’t know how to use them, try to identify them and look up how to videos online, or ask someone at your gym to show you how to use them. Try a new machine every time you visit the gym this month. No gym membership? Look up some good dumbbell exercises on YouTube!
Back to school season is in the air, and that always gives me a wave of nostalgia. But even more than that, it makes me want to brush up on my skillz!
The free app Duolingo (iOS / Android) can help you learn Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Irish, Dutch, Danish, or Swedish. The app is set up as a series of short lesson blocks, so you can learn a language for free in those odd minutes throughout the day when you have nothing better to do.
Have you always wanted to learn guitar? There are lots of great tutorials on YouTube, for guitar or any other instrument!
They’re scary to think about, but they happen: break-ins, both the physical and the digital kind.
If you get a fancy new gadget or big electronic, don’t broadcast it to the whole neighborhood by leaving the box on the curb. break down your cardboard boxes and put them in your trash, or if you are recycling, turn them inside out or hide them between plain boxes.
I know it’s difficult, but try to resist posting publicly about your vacations on social media. Your attention should be on the experience, anyway, not getting lost in your phone! Potential burglars will look for signs that a home is unoccupied; if they get your name off a piece of mail, check your Facebook, and see that you’re posting about laying out on the beach, that’s definitive proof. Even if you aren’t posting about your vacation on social media, keep your house looking occupied: ask a friend to collect your mail and mow your lawn or shovel your driveway.
For your online security, it is important to learn how to make a strong password. Even better than that, though, is using a password manager like LastPass to remember and automatically generate your passwords for you. That way, you can use a different password for every site, but only have to remember one (your login to LastPass).
November begins the craziness of the holiday season. Watch your calorie intake by using a few simple tricks to control your portion sizes.
First things first, measure your dinner plates. How big are they? In the 1980s, dinner plates were typically 9 inches across, but now the average dinner plate is around a foot across! You can fit a LOT of extra food on those extra three inches of diameter. If your plates are wider than 9 or 10 inches, consider swapping out your dinner plates for smaller ones. Since your eyes are bigger than your stomach, you are naturally inclined to fill your plate; fill it up with less food with a smaller plate.
In addition to how much you fill up your plate, you also need to consider what you fill it with. Portion your plate the healthy way by filling it halfway up with vegetables, then a quarter of protein and a quarter of starch.
Got a big holiday party tonight? Most party food is really unhealthy, so fill up before you go by eating a small dinner about an hour beforehand. That way, you can still eat something, but you can focus on that one treat you really want to try instead of filling up on appetizers.
We’ve made it to December! Lots of people are feeling charitable this time of year. If you are planning to give, I recommend taking the time to read up on a single worthy organization to donate to vs. spreading yourself thin donating small amounts to several charities. By concentrating on one charity, you are able to make a bigger impact and have a smaller portion of your contribution eaten away by processing fees. A great site for researching potential charities is Charity Navigator.
Finally, make a commitment to volunteering, both right now and throughout the year. Contact the local organizations you support to learn more about their volunteering opportunities.
Are you ready to take the plunge? You can jump right in, no matter what month it is!
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